Too many DC youth experience trauma and violence in their daily lives – and too few are equipped to do something about it. Using the power of the arts, One Common Unity builds resilient, compassionate young leaders, empowering them to break the cycle of violence and become positive forces for change. Its flagship program, Fly by Light, utilizes an intensive, multi-layered arts curriculum – including after-school workshops, weekend field trips, healing nature retreats, violence prevention events, and citywide art showcases – to build participants’ social and emotional competencies. Youth learn to express themselves creatively and nonviolently, gaining lifelong skills to better cope with trauma, peacefully resolve conflicts, and build healthy relationships. Many become “ambassadors,” organizing open mic nights, performances, and workshops for their peers and for younger children. These creative young minds imagine a new, more hopeful reality. Let’s make it happen.

Awards & Recognition

In October 2016, OCU received the Mayor’s Arts Award for Excellence in the Humanities, a highly prestigious honor granted to select non-profits in DC. “Fly By Light,” a documentary film about our unique program, has traveled to 15 international film festivals, been viewed by tens of thousands of people and received a number of awards.

In 2018, the Catalogue for Philanthropy selected OCU as one of the best non-profit organizations in D.C.

OCU has also received grant awards from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, The Whitman Institute, and Department of Behavioral Health (among numerous other grantors).

Our recently completed five-year impact study indicates that 84% of our students graduated from high school — a rate nearly 50% higher than the DC average. 0% of our participants served time in juvenile detention, jail, or prison. 71.4% of our graduates report holding the same job for more than six months. 83% report taking on more leadership roles than they did before participating in the program.

In the 2016-2017 school year, we engaged more than 100 youth participants at six after-school programs, delivering 115 hours of programming at each site. We recently issued our 183-page curriculum to guide our programming facilitators. And we graduated from the Fair Chance partnership, receiving 350 hours of capacity building services in board development, program monitoring and evaluation, strategic planning, and human resources management.


    Budget (FY0)

    • $3 million or higher
    • $1 million to $3 million
    • $500k to $1 million
    • Less than $500k

    Catalogue charities range in size from $100,000 to $3 million. This graphic indicates the budget range of the organization featured here. If you see an organizational budget above the $3 million mark, that is because the featured charity has grown in size since it first appeared in the Catalogue. We proudly present on our website the work of these "growth" charities.

    About the Catalogue for Philanthropy

    Each year 120 expert reviewers evaluate applicants for distinction, merit, and impact. Each featured charity has been successfully site visited and its financials given the thumbs up. The Catalogue for Philanthropy charges no fees and raises funds separately to support its work. Since 2003, it has raised over $40 million for charities across the Greater Washington region.

    The Catalogue for Philanthropy looks to friends like you to keep our services independent and entirely free of charge. Consider a small contribution to the Catalogue to cap off your gift and help the causes you care about get the full support they deserve!

    If you like One Common Unity you might also like

    This organization collaborates with